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Top Asian News 12:35 p.m. GMT

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by October 18, 2016 General

BEIJING (AP) — This week’s visit to China by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte points toward a restoration of trust between the sides following recent tensions over their South China Sea territorial dispute, China’s official news agency said Tuesday. The visit by the recently elected Duterte, who was due to arrive in Beijing later in the day, will be a step toward ending years of estrangement between the countries, Xinhua News Agency said. “Should he demonstrate his good faith, the trip will present a long overdue opportunity for the two nations, which enjoy longstanding friendship, to heal the wounds of the past few years and steer their relationship back to the right course,” Xinhua said in a commentary.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says no “foreign force” can stand in the way of progress in the long-neglected relationship between China and the Philippines. Speaking in Beijing on Tuesday, Wang praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for working to improve ties and for returning to “the track of dialogue and cooperation.” Wang said: “This reflects the wish of the Philippine people, and is in line with the Philippines’ national interest. No foreign force can stand in the way of such process.” While Wang gave no details, he was likely referencing the United States as a foreign force that could upset the rapprochement between Manila and Beijing, given the 65-year-old mutual defense treaty between the U.S.

NEW DELHI (AP) — A fire broke out late Monday at a private hospital in a city in eastern India, killing at least 23 people, India’s federal health minister said. Minister J.P. Nadda disclosed the death toll from the fire at the Sum Hospital in the city of Bhubaneswar in an interview with the Times Now TV news station. Doctors at two local hospitals told the Press Trust of India news agency that 22 people were dead on arrival at their facilities. They said more than 20 people were being treated for injuries. The slight discrepancy in casualty figures could not be resolved.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A U.S. Navy warship will visit New Zealand next month for the first time since the 1980s, ending a 30-year-old military stalemate between the countries that was triggered when New Zealand banned nuclear warships. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced Tuesday that he has given clearance for the destroyer USS Sampson to visit during celebrations of the Royal New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary. The visit marks a continued thaw in military relations, which turned frosty when New Zealand enacted its nuclear-free policy in the mid-1980s. The policy prevents ships that have nuclear weapons or are nuclear powered from visiting.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The U.S. Air Force is spending nearly $1 billion to build a radar installation that will help keep astronauts and satellites safe by tracking pieces of space junk as small as a baseball. That is, if global warming doesn’t get in the way. The Space Fence is being constructed on a tiny atoll in the Marshall Islands that scientists say could be regularly swamped by rising seas within a couple of decades as a result of climate change. The salt water could play havoc with the equipment, the scientists say. And The Associated Press found that neither the military nor its contractor, Lockheed Martin, gave serious consideration to that threat when designing the installation and choosing a site, despite warnings from the island nation’s environmental agency.

BANGKOK (AP) — Aside from his kingly duties — and they were immense — Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej took time during his 70-year reign to compose music (and jam with some of the world’s jazz legends), build sailing craft (and win an international yachting race), paint surrealistic oils and have some 20 patents registered for an assortment of inventions. Here’s a look at the many pursuits of Bhumibol, who died last week at the age of 88: ___ MUSICIAN “He is simply the coolest king in the land,” declared American jazz great Lionel Hampton of Bhumibol’s talent on the saxophone.

BANGKOK (AP) — For Thailand’s royalists — and there are millions of them — King Bhumibol Adulyadej will probably long remain embedded as a potent, father-like figure who guided them through turbulent decades and espoused ideals of national harmony, labor on behalf of the poor and the virtues of an agrarian society vanishing in the wake of headlong modernization. But how such affection and the king’s ideals will impact the country’s turbulent political arena and day-to-day life remains to be seen. That depends on how successfully Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn ultimately fills his father’s shoes, how the ruling military regime shapes the vacuum left by the politically powerful king and whether Thais translate some of Bhumibol’s admonitions — like not succumbing to rampant greed, corruption and environmental exploitation — into practice.

BANGKOK (AP) — Thais waited patiently in long queues outside government banks Tuesday to secure special commemorative 100 baht currency notes in honor of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The note was released five years ago by the Bank of Thailand, but interest in it was renewed after the king’s death on Oct. 13. People began lining up in the early morning at banks around the country to purchase the note, which was available for twice its face value at 200 baht ($5.71). The banknote features images of the king visiting Thai people, planting grass and playing the saxophone. The side with the special images is printed with metallic gold ink.

In this photo by Wong Maye-E, residential buildings on Changjon Street are reflected in a vehicle window at dusk in Pyongyang, North Korea. The city of about 2.5 million people has block after block of densely concentrated high-rise residential buildings. The open space in the city center has large public plazas and parks, where many monuments to the country’s leaders and war memorials can be found.

SINGAPORE (AP) — A self-driving car with two engineers on board was switching lanes in Singapore when it hit a truck Tuesday, authorities said. No one was hurt. The vehicle was operated by autonomous vehicle software startup nuTonomy, which made headlines last month when it offered free rides in its self-driving taxis in a Singapore district. The Land Transport Authority said the car was “involved in a minor incident” on a public road designated for testing. “The test vehicle was changing lane when it collided with a lorry at a low speed. There were no injuries,” it said in a Facebook post.

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